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Water talks on hold with County pending 'preferred facilitator' availability

Posted July 13, 2017

Nearly four months after Simcoe County councillors voted to engage the services of provincial mediation to deal with the upper tier's future role in municipal water and wastewater infrastructure, the process remains stalled because "the preferred facilitator who we hope will support this initiative is currently engaged in another file," according to Debbie Korolnek, General Manager of Engineering, Planning and Environment.

Last March, in a 73 to 41weighted recorded vote, County councillors (including New Tecumseth mayor Rick Milne and deputy mayor Jamie Smith) approved asking "the Office of the Provincial Facilitator to initiate discussions with Simcoe municipalities regarding potential future roles of the County and its local municipalities in the provision of coordinated, sustainable water and wastewater servicing in accordance with the Provincial Growth Plan."

Bradford West Gwillimbury, Essa, Severn, Springwater, and Wasaga Beach were opposed. Collingwood split its vote as mayor Sandra Cooper voted against, but deputy mayor Brian Saunderson was in favour.

The County is waiting for Paula Dill, whose previous work here was as part of the Places to Grow Simcoe Specific Amendment which set growth policies and population allocations through to 2013.

"The purpose of this assignment is to gather information and help the parties work through this process," said Ms. Korolnek in an email to Free Press Online. "There is no desire for a fixed result. The preferred facilitator is one person that the County and its local municipalities have worked with in the past and there is a level of trust and confidence on the part of the County and its local municipalities."

In an email to Free Press Online, Warden Gerry Marshall, repeated comments he made back in March, noting again, "the review will be optional to those municipalities that wish to participate in the conversation."

"I can't stress enough to our residents, municipalities, and local councils that the only decision that has been made to date is to have discussions with our municipalities and report back to County Council with these findings. There may be no benefits to the County's involvement at all, or some of the interested municipalities may have different needs that could be met through multiple approaches. Water and waste water services are big ticket items for our municipalities. This will be a collaborative approach to an area of concern to the majority of our municipalities that face continued and growing budgetary constraints."

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri